President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Tuesday guaranteed that there is enough buffer stock of rice despite the massive agricultural damage left by Super Typhoon Egay in Northern Luzon.
Marcos met with officials of the Department of Agriculture to discuss the effects of Egay on the country’s rice production as well as the measures to ensure a sufficient supply of rice.
"Mukha naman, sa ngayon, the supply is okay," Marcos, who also sits as DA Secretary, said in a video message.
Marcos mentioned that DA officials have assured him of enough supply of rice and corn seeds as well as high-value crops, which will be distributed to affected farmers.
The DA will distribute 111,873 bags of rice seeds; 14,426 bags of corn seeds; and, 2,582 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds to regions affected by Egay.
Marcos also said they have discussed the DA's preparations for the buffer stock as part of the measures to address the expected effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Marcos pointed out that rice importation is needed during times of emergency, but he said this must be studied carefully.
“So, gumawa na kami ng schedule kung saan tayo kukuha ng production, kung saan tayo bibili dito sa local; kung kailangan mag-import, mag-i-import na naman tayo,” Marcos said.
(We've created a schedule on where we will get for production, where we will purchase locally, and if we need to import, we will import.)
“Mabuti naman at sa usapan namin, nakita naman na ang pag-import natin ng bigas ay pababa naman nang pababa. Ngunit pagka may emergency na ganito ay kailangan talaga nating tignan kung nangangailangan pa ng pag-import,” he added.
(We've seen in the discussion that our rice importation has decreased. However, in times of emergencies, we need to import rice.)
Earlier, the DA said it is eyeing to import 1.3 million metric tons of rice.
DA Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla said the agency would still schedule the planned importation of rice.
"Mayroon kaming ini-schedule. We will be scheduling the importation. We have already, you know… remember nasa sanitary, phytosanitary, hindi ba. We have already something like 1.3 volume of applications that are already pending there," Sombilla said.
(We are scheduling it. We will be scheduling the importation. We have already, you know... remember the sanitary, phytosanitary [permits are being processed].
The DA estimated damage due to typhoons Egay and Falcon and the enhanced Southwest Monsoon or Habagat is already estimated to be P1.94 billion.
Of this total amount, the rice sector incurred P950 million worth of damage while corn was at P713 million.
A total of 2,397,336 people or 654,837 families were affected by Egay and Habagat in 4,111 barangays in Ilocos, Cagayan, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and the National Capital Region.
Meanwhile, PAGASA, in its 11 a.m. bulletin on Tuesday, said parts of Luzon and Visayas will continue to experience gusty conditions due to the enhanced Southwest Monsoon or Habagat.
The state weather bureau said Typhoon Falcon maintained its strength while moving towards the sea southeast of Okinawa Islands.
PAGASA said the following areas will have gusty conditions, especially in coastal and upland/mountainous areas exposed to winds:
Batanes, Babuyan Islands, Abra, Benguet, Zambales, Bataan, the central and southern portions of Aurora, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, and most of Ilocos Region, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol Region, and Western Visayas. —VAL, GMA Integrated News